Summer vacation is a time when boredom and curiosity lead to trouble but there are many ways to keep teens out of trouble over the summer. Many teens try drugs for the first time over summer vacation, and many escalate their risky behaviors to the next level. Is this the summer your child will go from trying marijuana to using hallucinogens or harder drugs? Or the summer your teen will lose touch with childhood friends to start hanging out with a “cool” older crowd?
During the year, teens are most likely to engage in risky behaviors after school between 3-5 p.m. In the summer months, when the days are long and the weather is warm, the window of risk-taking is even larger. For example, in June and July, the rate of teen marijuana use spikes, according to research by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The lack of structure and supervision, added freedom and more time with friends increases teens’ access to (and temptation to use) drugs and alcohol.
The ailing economy has given teens even more free time, promoting further risk-taking. With more competition and fewer jobs to go around, the unemployment rate among adolescents has soared to 24 percent, the highest it has been since 1965. Because many parents work full-time or have other obligations, teens tend to spend more time home alone in the summer.
At a time when summer jobs are scarce and public schools are slashing summer school and other programs, teens may seek out a “second family” in their friends, who may encourage more risky behavior.
Planning to Keep Teens Out of Trouble Over the Summer
So what’s your plan to keep your teen out of trouble this summer? While parents are busy wondering how they’ll keep their kids occupied when school is out, most children and teens have one thing on their mind: summer camp. Parents who want their children to learn new skills over summer vacation, but also want to address certain behaviors that concern them, such as drug or alcohol use or defiance, have found the best of both worlds at wilderness therapy programs.
Wilderness programs do double duty, fulfilling the need to keep teens busy over the summer as well as parents’ desire to get help for their child. At wilderness camp, teens get the campfires, friendships and time outdoors of a traditional summer camp, while having a therapeutic experience that addresses negative behaviors. By helping teens develop social skills, manage their emotions, and improve their communication and relationship-building skills, these programs are more than a summer away from home – they are an investment in the future.